Student arrested for child pornography

By Alexa Bakalarski and Dale Shoemaker / The Pitt News Staff

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Pittsburgh police arrested a Pitt student Tuesday on child pornography charges, as well as criminal use of a cell phone and the internet, according to a police report.

Ammar Butaleb, a first-year Pitt student, was arrested at an apartment Tuesday afternoon on Allequippa Street in Oakland on one felony charge for storing child pornography on a Dropbox account and his cell phone, as well as one felony charge for using the internet to commit a crime, according to the report.

The report said Butaleb, who is originally from Kuwait and came to Pitt to study English, said he knew that possessing child pornography was wrong.

He told police that he didn’t intentionally store the pornography and thought he had deleted all of it from his Dropbox, the report said. Officers confirmed that Butaleb did not currently have child pornography in his Dropbox account.

He told police that he deleted the pornography because he knew it was illegal and only looked at it because he was curious.

Butaleb received the porn through links sent from strangers over Omegle, an online messaging system, which he then sent directly to his Dropbox account. He accessed the Dropbox account with two cell phones that he owned, but not with his laptop, the report said.

According to the report, Butaleb said he received and looked at legal porn through Omegle and that only some of it was illegal. He said he never asked for the child pornography and only looked at it out of curiosity, the report said. Butaleb told police he is not addicted to porn and does not need professional help.

Butaleb told police he never shared the pornography and he has never inappropriately touched a child under the age of 18.

The report said police began tracking Butaleb after Dropbox, Inc. reported a cybertip to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about a user accessing videos of child pornography in July and October from two IP addresses. Police detective Lynn Havelka requested a court order for subscriber information from the IP addresses from Comcast Cable on Feb. 9, the report said.

Comcast Cable responded the same day of the court order with subscriber information on Butaleb. This week, police obtained a search warrant to Butaleb’s home in Oakland. There, he admitted to storing the pornography, according to the report.

“I was wrong, I don’t blame you for coming here. I know it was wrong and illegal,” Butaleb told police, according to the report. “I thought I would be getting a knock on the door, I know it is illegal.”

Butaleb did not respond to an email or return a voicemail message requesting comment.

According to court documents, Butaleb awaits a preliminary hearing on April 26.

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